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Author Topic: Chatham Dockyard - Nuclear Era  (Read 10502 times)

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Offline kyn

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Re: Chatham Dockyard - Nuclear Era
« Reply #8 on: February 06, 2016, 19:43:19 »
CONFIDENTIAL

Second Nuclear Dockyard

I understand from P.O. (N) that the development of Chatham as a second nuclear dockyard has now been concurred in by the Ministers in receipt of the Minister (R.N.)’s minute of 19th February (not all addressees).

2.   On the assumption that as proposed, the Minister (R.N.) will wish to make the announcement during his opening speech in the Debate on the Navy Estimates this Thursday, 11th March, I now enclose drafts of:-
(a)   the proposed statement;
Answers to possible supplementary questions; and
Letters for U.S. of S. (R.N.) to send on 10th March to the Members of Parliament for Rochester and Chatham and for Gillingham and to the Vice Chairman of the Navy Department Industrial Whitley Council.

These take into account comments made on earlier drafts circulated (not to all addressees) with Head of MAT. 2 (N)’s loose minute N/MAT.7124/64 of 10th February.

3.   Drafts of letters for Vice Controller to send to Vickers Armstrong and Cammell Laird on 10th March were submitted with Head of MAT. 2 (N)’s loose minute of 19th February.

4.   Following the precedent established when the choice of Rosyth as the first nuclear yard was announced in 1963, Vice Controller may wish on the morning of 11th March to pass the test of the Minister (R.N.)’s proposed statement by confidential signal to the Admirals Superintendent Dockyards in the United Kingdom.  If so, perhaps Sec. to C.N.S.T. could check the final wording of the announcement and the embargo time with P.S. to Minister (R.N.).  In 1963 an embargo time of 1630 hours was imposed.

5.   I should draw attention to two comments made by the Department of Economic Affairs:-
(a)   The Department are anxious that it should be made clear in reply to supplementary questions that the choice of Chatham has been dictated by technical and economic factors and does not imply a retreat from the Government’s policy of limiting development in South East England.  This is dealt with in the draft answers to the first and sixth supplementaries;
(b)   The Department also suggest that in the main statement the phrase “facilities at Chatham, our traditional submarine yard” should be replaced by “facilities at Chatham, which are the most suitable for the purpose” or words to this effect.  The Minister (R.N.) may wish to consider such an amendment, which is, of course, designed to draw attention to the thorough review of technical and economic factors which has led to the choice of Chatham for this role.

9th March, 1965

Offline Bilgerat

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Re: Chatham Dockyard - Nuclear Era
« Reply #7 on: February 06, 2016, 08:01:56 »
There is a lot of info on the Forum about nuclear powered submarines at Chatham. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I seem to recall that the reason HMS Dreadnought was so dirty was because they had an accident at the (then) new Nuclear Complex at Devonport which contaminated the inside of the boat.

HMS Dreadnought is now at Rosyth laid up, with her fin removed and hatches welded shut, waiting for the government to make a decision on her fate.
"I did not say that the French will not come, I said they will not come by sea" - Lord St Vincent

Offline Signals99

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Re: Chatham Dockyard - Nuclear Era
« Reply #6 on: February 06, 2016, 01:57:13 »
Grandarog, you are not mistaken. Chatham yard did a number of nuclear refits and refuels, the last one being the decommissioning of HMS Dreadnought. I was employed as a band eighteen Health Physics Monitor involved in six refits. The only reason we got HMS Dreadnought was because she was so dirty radiologically, so no other Yard would touch her. I still recall the management slogan "last but best". Pure cynicism.

Offline Bryn Clinch

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Re: Chatham Dockyard - Nuclear Era
« Reply #5 on: February 05, 2016, 19:45:08 »
They certainly did, Grandarog. My nephew, a coppersmith, worked on them and is now at Devonport.

Offline grandarog

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Re: Chatham Dockyard - Nuclear Era
« Reply #4 on: February 05, 2016, 18:51:05 »
Unless I am badly mistaken, Chatham Dockyard hosted Nuke Subs, whether they had refits or just maintenance I don't know. My cousin was in the Radiation Monitoring dept.

Offline kyn

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Re: Chatham Dockyard - Nuclear Era
« Reply #3 on: February 05, 2016, 16:18:26 »
There are a few more documents to go, which I haven't read!  We will have to see how it pans out :)

Offline conan

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Re: Chatham Dockyard - Nuclear Era
« Reply #2 on: February 05, 2016, 00:20:11 »
Very interesting Kyn, I'm wondering if the presence of the Richard Montgomery out in the estuary nipped this one in the bud?
To remain ignorant of what happened before you were born is to remain a child......Cicero

Offline kyn

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Chatham Dockyard - Nuclear Era
« Reply #1 on: February 04, 2016, 20:08:23 »
The enclosed draft Admiralty Board memorandum sets out the case for adapting Chatham Dockyard to refit and refuel nuclear submarines, on the assumption that the capacity which is now being created at Rosyth – and which could not be further increased within the time available – will become inadequate for the needs of our growing nuclear submarine fleet by 1968/69.

2.   Although a final decision on the size of the PLOARIS Fleet has not yet been taken, the probability is that we will need a second nuclear yard by the end of 1968 because of the overlap between the refits of DREADNOUGHT and VALIANT.  On the assumption which seems a likely one, that the S.S.B.N. refitting programme at Rosyth will overlap substantially with WARSPITE in 1970, a second yard will have to be ready for WARSPITE by mid-1969; and indeed, on any assumption about the S.S.B.N’s, if the S.S.N. refits turn out to need more than twelve months (which is a distinct possibility) a second yard would be needed by mid-1969 to cope with an overlap between VALIANT and WARSPITE.

3.   It is already very late to start preparing another Dockyard in time for late 1968; and not too soon to begin if mid-1969 is the target.  There are a number of hurdles to be cleared with other Government Departments – notably the Treasury, Board of Trade, Scottish Development department (who will press the claim of Rosyth) and Ministry of Labour – after the Secretary of State for defence has been consulted.

4.   In view of this, I suggest that an early discussion by the Admiralty Board is desirable; and indeed the Vice Controller has asked for this memorandum to be tabled for the Board meeting on 4th February.

5.   It is accordingly submitted for approval to circulate.

**** Jeffrey
Head of Material Division 2 (Naval)
11th January, 1965



 

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